While much criticism on the fourteenth‐century English scribe and politician Thomas Usk characterizes him as a self‐interested partisan whose Appeal and Testament of Love lay bare his hopes for material reward from London's rulers, this article argues that Usk's two texts offer a political vision organized around what he and his culture regarded as a virtue: rational obedience to political authority. In his Appeal, the explosive text that was written for the trial of London's mayor in 1384, Usk makes use of charged language tied to the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 in order to depict obedience as fundamental to peace in London. His Testament, written a year later while in prison, revisits the issues that moved him to write the Appeal, this time drawing on medieval ethical and political theory to define the necessity of—and the limits to—obedience in a monarchical society.
“Al the town in a rore”: Authority, Revolt, and Rational Obedience in Thomas Usk's Appeal and Testament of Love
Chandler Fry; “Al the town in a rore”: Authority, Revolt, and Rational Obedience in Thomas Usk's Appeal and Testament of Love. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 May 2022; 52 (2): 285–311. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-9687886
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